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Thursday, 18 April, 2002

Response to the revision of Curriculum 2005

Statement by André Gaum, Western Cape Minister of Education.

Two years ago Minister Kader Asmal called for the review of Curriculum 2005.  The review and revision process has finally been completed and on Monday this week the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) was asked to consider and approve as policy the revised National Curriculum Statement for grades R-9 in schools.

The process of the development of the Revised National Curriculum Statement Grades R - 9 (Schools) has been accompanied by wide ranging consultation with all the relevant stakeholders. The period of public comment drew considerable response and the Statement was re-worked to take account of these comments. Teachers and principals have generally welcomed the revision and the revised Curriculum Statements.

On Monday I therefore joined my fellow education ministers in approving the Revised National Curriculum Statement as policy.

I am particularly pleased to announce that the Curriculum Statement for Languages supports the WCED's ideal of implementation of mother tongue instruction and the introduction of a third language in our primary schools.

At the same time I must indicate that there has also been widespread public concern in respect of religion and sexuality education in the Revised National Curriculum Statement.

The first point to make is that the first version of the Life Orientation Learning Area Statement has been considerably re-worked and statements in respect of sexuality and religion education which were interpreted to be offensive have been removed. The National Curriculum Statement does not encourage religious indoctrination but it does encourage an awareness of the diversity of South African society and diverse religions. However, I am of the opinion that this awareness of other religions is best developed later in the school child's life. On my request, the CEM has agreed that the implementation of religion education in the lower grades could be reviewed in the light of recommendations to this effect from interested parties, inter alia, the council of religious advisers Minister Asmal wishes to establish. In the interim I have asked my department to consider developing Learning Programmes for the Western Cape that do not include requirements for study of other religions in the Foundation Phase and Intermediate Phase, that is Grades R to 6.

I also wish to allay parents' fears that learners will not observe and practise their religion at schools. The South African Schools Act gives School Governing Bodies the right to provide for religious observances and religious practices as long as learner choice in relation to these practices is respected. This means that schools are able to practice all manner of religious observances in school time as long as this has been approved by the School Governing Body and individual learners who choose not to participate are not in any way discriminated against. Schools may also offer extra-curriculum religious instruction if this is approved by the School Governing Body.

The National Curriculum Statement will be implemented as follows

2004     Foundation Phase (Grades R - 3)
2005     Intermediate Phase (Grades 4 - 6)
2006     Grade 7
2007     Grade 8
2008     Grade 9

The WCED has developed a plan of action for preparing for the implementation of the Revised National Curriculum Statement Grades R - 9 (Schools). The plan includes general advocacy to reach as wide an audience as possible with accurate information. This advocacy will begin with a detailed circular to all schools next week. The Curriculum Statements will be on the WCED website by the end of April and we will then begin with

  • the development of training packages and learning support materials
  • the training of a member of each school management team and teachers
  • internal and external monitoring and evaluation.

However, the question raised is what teachers should do in the interim. All teachers should continue to follow the requirements for Curriculum 2005 as set out in Circulars sent to schools by the WCED in 2000 and 2001. In this way it is business as usual until further notice. However, teachers may wish to consider using the content of the Revised Curriculum Statements to inform their teaching.

In addition the WCED will re-consider the current requirements for assessment of learners and the reporting and recording of assessment. Many of our teachers have found these to be unduly onerous. Circulars to schools and training workshops will address these issues in the near future.

The Council of Education Ministers was also asked to consider a proposed strategy for Further Education and Training. The proposed timeframe for the development and implementation of the FET curriculum is currently as follows:

  • Development of the curriculum for 23 subjects in 2002 and first half of 2003
  • Teacher training in 2003
  • Introduction of FET curriculum in Grade 10 in 2004, Grade 11 in 2005 and Grade 12 - the first FETC in 2006.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) welcomes the plans for developing the curriculum statements for FET schools and is committed to working with the Department of Education, other provinces and stakeholders in this important process. At our request Minister Asmal at the CEM agreed to establish a small Task Team to regularly review the proposed timeframes for developing and implementing the National Curriculum Statement (Schools) and the impact it will have on schools and provincial education departments. In particular the WCED would like the FETC qualification, that is the qualification which will replace the Senior Certificate, to be finalised and accredited before implementation of the new curriculum begins. The development of such a framework must be finalised before Grade 10 learners are expected to follow the new curriculum. The WCED will also monitor developments closely and ensure that adjustments to the time frames are made if this is in the interests of our teachers and learners.

As with the GET curriculum it will be necessary to develop interim arrangements for our current Grade 9 - those in grade 9 in 2002 - who will proceed to the FET band. The OBE curriculum has not yet been developed for this cohort of learners. They will proceed with the present Grade 10 curriculum and will write the Senior Certificate in 2005. The WCED is examining how schools can best prepare the present Grade 9 learners for this and our recommendations will be communicated to schools in the next few weeks.

Issued by:
The Communications Directorate
Western Cape Education Department
Private Bag X9114
Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 467-2531
Fax: (021) 467-2363
Email: pattwell@pawc.wcape.gov.za
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